Frequently asked questions

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If you suspect your baby may have rotavirus, or you want to help protect your child, talk to your baby’s doctor.

When talking to your baby’s doctor, make sure you ask all your questions about rotavirus and how to help protect your baby with vaccination.

When Talking to Your Baby's Doctor, Make Sure You Ask All Your Questions About Rotavirus and How to Help Protect Your Baby With Vaccination

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Frequently Asked Questions about RotaTeq and rotavirus infection

Rotavirus is a common virus that spreads easily. It is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in babies and young children.

Symptoms of rotavirus include:

  • Fever
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to loss of body fluids (dehydration)

Rotavirus symptoms range from mild to severe. Some infected babies may have few or no symptoms. But doctors can't predict which babies will have severe infection. A severe infection could lead to a trip to the emergency room or hospital stay.

Rotavirus usually spreads through contaminated hands or objects that have the virus on them. Rotavirus can live on surfaces for a long time. Only certain disinfectants can kill rotavirus. Many common soaps don't work.

Because rotavirus spreads easily, all babies, including your baby, have a risk of rotavirus infection. Even with handwashing and cleaning with a disinfectant, it can be very hard to prevent rotavirus infection. In the United States, rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in babies and young children.

RotaTeq is a vaccine that can help protect babies against common types of rotavirus. Rotavirus is a leading cause of severe diarrhea in babies.

RotaTeq is not a shot; the vaccine is given by mouth. Your child will receive 3 doses of the vaccine.

RotaTeq is not a shot - the vaccine is given by mouth. Your baby will get 3 doses of the vaccine. Dose 1 is given at 6-12 weeks of age. Dose 2 is given 4-10 weeks later, and dose 3 is given 4-10 weeks after dose 2. Your baby should get all 3 doses by the time they are 8 months old.

Your baby should receive all three doses of RotaTeq before they are 32 weeks of age (a little over 7 months old). Talk to your baby’s doctor early to ensure they get vaccinated on schedule.

Yes, it can. In a large clinical trial, RotaTeq demonstrated 98% efficacy against severe RGE and 74% efficacy against RGE of any severity through the first rotavirus season after vaccination. Also, infants who were vaccinated with RotaTeq were 94% less likely to visit an emergency room and 96% less likely to be hospitalized through the first 2 years after the third dose, due to the types of rotavirus targeted by the vaccine (G1, G2, G3, G4, and G9).

The most common side effects after getting RotaTeq are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Throwing up
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Ear infection

For a full list of side effects, see the Patient Information and talk with your doctor.

Your baby should not get the vaccine if they:

  • Had an allergic reaction after they got a dose of this vaccine
  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Find a list of ingredients at the end of the Patient Information.
  • Have a Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (SCID)
  • Have ever had a blocked intestine, such as intusussception

Before your baby gets RotaTeq, tell their doctor if your baby:

  • Has a fever, diarrhea, or has been throwing up
  • Is not gaining weight or growing as expected
  • Has another health problem, such as cancer, HIV/AIDs
  • Is or has recently taken medicines (such as steroids)
  • Has recently had a blood transfusion or gotten another blood product
  • Was born with problems with their intestines, had a blockage in their intestines, or had surgery on their belly

Also tell your doctor if you or anyone in your house:

  • Has a weakened immune system or is taking medicines that can weaken their immune system, such as steroids
  • Has cancer
When Talking With Your Baby's Doctor, Be Sure to Ask Any Questions You May Have About the Rotavirus Vaccine

When talking with your baby’s doctor, be sure to ask any questions you may have about rotavirus and the vaccine, RotaTeq.

Looking to learn more about rotavirus and vaccination?

What is RotaTeq?

RotaTeq is an oral vaccine used to help prevent rotavirus infection in children. Rotavirus infection can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea that can be severe and can lead to loss of body fluids (dehydration), hospitalization, and even death in some children. RotaTeq may not fully protect all children that get the vaccine, and if your child already has the virus it will not help them.

RotaTeq is not a shot; the vaccine is given by mouth. Your child will receive 3 doses of the vaccine. The first dose is given when your child is 6 to 12 weeks of age, the second dose is given 4 to 10 weeks later, and the third dose is given 4 to 10 weeks after the second dose. The last (third) dose should be given to your child by 32 weeks of age.

Important Safety Information

RotaTeq may not fully protect all children who get the vaccine.

RotaTeq should not be given to infants who are allergic to any part of the vaccine.

Your child should not get RotaTeq if he or she has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (SCID).

Your child should not get RotaTeq if he or she has ever had intussusception, a form of blockage in the intestines.

The most common side effects reported after taking RotaTeq were diarrhea, vomiting, fever, runny nose and sore throat, wheezing or coughing, and ear infection.

Other reported side effects include: hives; Kawasaki disease (a serious condition that can affect the heart, symptoms may include fever, rash, red eyes, red mouth, swollen glands, swollen hands and feet, and if untreated, can be life threatening).

Call your child’s doctor or go to the emergency department right away if your child has any of the following problems after getting RotaTeq® (Rotavirus Vaccine, Live, Oral, Pentavalent), even if it has been several weeks since the last dose, because these may be signs of a serious problem called intussusception:

  • bad vomiting
  • bad diarrhea
  • severe stomach pain
  • blood in the stool.

Intussusception happens when a part of the intestine gets blocked or twisted. Since FDA approval, reports of infants with intussusception following RotaTeq have been received by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Intussusception occurred days and sometimes weeks after vaccination. Some infants needed hospitalization, surgery on their intestines, or a special enema to treat this problem. Death due to intussusception has occurred. A study conducted after approval of RotaTeq showed an increased risk of intussusception in the 21 days after the first dose of RotaTeq, but especially in the first 7 days.

There are some important things your doctor needs to know about your baby. Tell your doctor if your baby:

  • Is sick with fever, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Is not growing or gaining weight as expected
  • Has a weakened immune system from a disease (such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or a blood disorder) or from medicine (such as steroids)
  • Has received a blood transfusion or blood products recently
  • Was born with gastrointestinal problems, had a blockage, or had abdominal surgery

The spread of vaccine virus to non-vaccinated contacts has been reported. Tell your doctor if you have someone in your household who has a weak immune system, cancer, or is taking medications that can weaken the immune system so that your doctor can provide further advice.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.

Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects to the Merck National Service Center at 1-800-444-2080.

Please read the accompanying Patient Information for RotaTeq and discuss it with your doctor. The physician Prescribing Information also is available.